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Playbook in Sanders' hands now

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Sanders.jpgIt isn't that Randy Sanders doesn't like calling plays. He just doesn't think it's all cracked up to what people make out to be.

"I think calling the plays is one of the most overrated things a coordinator does," said Sanders, UK's offensive coordinator.

Sanders will take over the play-calling duties this year now that Joker Phillips is taking over the headset of the head coach. Phillips, who has been calling the plays since taking over the offensive coordinator role in 2005, will give up his duties in favor of Sanders as Phillips takes on more responsibility.

Well, sort of.

"Typically what you call on first down or third down or in the red zone has already been determined earlier in the week by the coaching staff," Sanders said. "You don't sit up there and arbitrarily pick out plays. Usually you talk about it as a staff and you study what the other team's tendencies are, so you're kind of calling the best play on what you've seen so far."

Phillips said he will have veto power to overrule any call, but ultimately it will be Sanders' job to pick the play when the game is on the line.

"There's no question that sometimes you have to get off the plan and adjust as the game goes on," Sanders said.

After a high-flying offensive year in 2007, when the Cats ranked 24th nationally in total offense and 15th in scoring offense, the play calling has been an area of criticism recently as the offensive numbers have dipped (mention the words "bubble screen" to a Wildcat fan and watch their reaction). With different personnel on offense, the coaching staff has had to adjust to its team's strengths.

A year ago, that was a run-heavy offense that ran for more than 191 yards per game.

Sanders said they are hoping to open up the offense more this year, but it isn't as if they've pulled back the reins on the offense the past two years.

"One of the things I've learned through the years from doing this is that when plays work everybody thinks it's wide open," Sanders said. "Sometimes you go into it with the approach of wide open, but if the guys aren't making plays, people think you are conservative. That's kind of the way it is."

The coaching staff is still in the process of figuring out the chain of command for signaling the plays to the field. In years past, Phillips called the plays from the press box down to Sanders on the field, who then signaled the plays into the quarterback.

That all changed last year with a freak accident that left Sanders in a cast. Sanders broke his left arm when he was hit in a sideline collision during the fourth quarter of the Louisville game. From then on, backup quarterback Tyler Sargent, standing right next to Sanders each and every game, signaled the plays in for his offensive coordinator.

After serving a vital role in last year's play calling, Sargent could be part of the process again.

"How we get the plays out on the field, we will get that all worked out," Sanders said. "There's a good chance I may be up in the press box communicating it down to one of our coaches or to Tyler, who signaled a lot last year after I broke my arm. The hard part is figuring out who you're getting it to on the field and who those other 10 players are going to be."

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